Lead From Behind Gives Way To Smart Power

Posted: August 20, 2011 in Songs of Space and Nuclear War
Tags: , ,

smart powerFrom National Journal regarding “smart power” and the Syrian situation. 

For months stretching back to the bloom of the Arab spring, the Obama administration has resisted explicitly calling for the ouster of Syrian strongman Bashar al-Assad, even as the body count in his bloody crackdown on protesters mounted to nearly 2,000. As recently as Wednesday, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was defending the administration’s reticence in the face of such carnage.

This, in diplo-speak, is leading from behind.  And some amplification is in order.

“It’s not going to be any news if the United States says Assad needs to go. OK, fine. What next?” Clinton said during an appearance at the National Defense University. Only if regional heavyweights such as Turkey and Saudi Arabia join the United States and it’s [sic] international allies, she argued, would the message get Assad’s attention. “So I think this is smart power, where it’s not just about brute force, it’s not about unilateralism, it’s being smart enough to say, `You know what? We want a bunch of people singing from the same hymn book.’”

So that was Wednesday.  And it turns out as of Friday, we can now switch the knob to “smart power” and start singing from the same hymn book after all.

Today, President Obama led that hallelujah chorus, proclaiming that for the sake of the Syrian people, “the time has come for President Assad to step aside.” The carefully choreographed shout down was immediately echoed by the powerhouses of Europe and the European Union, which joined the United States in promising tough new sanctions on Syria’s energy exports. The moves followed Syria’s one-time ally Turkey finally seeming to abandon the Damascus regime, and Saudi Arabia and its Gulf allies recalling their ambassadors in the past week. This afternoon the United Nations Human Rights Commissioner was expected to brief the Security Council that Syria’s crackdown on protesters potentially amount to a “crime against humanity” that should be referred to the International Criminal Court.

Ah, a plethora of potent polemics to plague problematic and petty politicos like Assad.  Pretty soon, we’ll have North Korea or Iran-like levels of sanctions piled up at Assad’s front door…and then?

It’s enough to force some to ask why we aren’t we bombing Syria already?


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